Tan Le: Making miracles with her mind – CNBC’s “The Brave Ones”

Tan Le emotiv ceo office
Tan Le is the founder of brain research company Emotiv, whose technology helped a quadriplegic man drive a Formula One car using only his thoughts. She spoke to “The Brave Ones” about fleeing Vietnam as a four-year-old, quitting a law degree for neuroscience, and why being an outsider is the secret to her success.

01 Escape from Vietnam

When Tan Le was a child, she took a boat trip that would set the tone for the rest of her life. In 1981, aged just four years old, her mother Mai Ho carried her and her sister Min to a secret hiding place in Ho Chi Minh City, in their home country of Vietnam. It was midnight and the family had to keep quiet through the early hours.

“At about four o’clock (in the morning), a man come and he said that we can start to go one by one. And so I (carried) Min and Le and we got onto a small boat … At the time, when the sea (was) very rough, they were scared and they (held) onto me very tight and I keep telling them that we will be okay,” Ho told CNBC’s “The Brave Ones.”

The family traveled with more than 150 others on the South China Sea, escaping a southern Vietnam that had become inhospitable when Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) fell to troops from the north, marking the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Five nights after they were huddled onto the boat, and after running out of food and water, they were rescued by a British oil tanker, which took them to Malaysia where they spent three months in a refugee camp.

“It was our family decision to take the children to a safer place, a place where they (could) actually appreciate the real freedom and change and (have the) opportunity to start a life again,” Ho said. In case the family was arrested, Le’s father stayed behind with the agreement that he would get the family released if they ended up in jail.

Eventually, they found their way to Australia, where Le went to school in a Melbourne suburb… View original article


Writer: Lucy Handley
Design and code: Bryn Bache
Editor: Matt Clinch
Executive Producer, The Brave Ones: Betsy Alexander
Producers, The Brave Ones: Jamie Corsi and Kelly Lin
Images: CNBC, Getty Images